As people, and especially as college students, we find and focus on one or two things we enjoy and care about, ignoring things that we don’t personally find to be interesting. That’s why some people become engineers rather than study English or philosophy in college.
However, in life, things aren’t so clear-cut. There’s a lot of gray area, and you can’t only do the things you like. You must consider that there’s a whole world of issues outside your field that needs the ingenuity and ideas of multiple different fields.
One of these is the overarching issue of climate change, which affects nearly all aspects of life.
On Tuesday, Carla Messinger, the director of Native American Heritage Program in Allentown, is going to delve into some of the widely unknown impacts of climate change, and the perspective of Native Americans on it, in a presentation called “America’s Original People — Keepers of the Land and Water.”
“This topic is important because people don’t realize what we don’t have left, in the way of water, air, safe land to use for farming,” Messinger said. “It’s been going on for a really long time, centuries in fact.”
This is part of a project started by Dr. Dustin Crowley and Dr. Jordan Howell, called Cultivating the Environmental Humanities. Crowley and Howell, faculty members of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the School of Earth and Environment respectively, began the project in 2017.
The pair were awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to bring their ideas to fruition.
The three-year project, which is in its final year, has been an effort to bring together STEM and humanities disciplines to combat and raise awareness about environmental problems, in the form of environmental humanities.
Dr. Crowley, a professor of English said, “One of the ideas that environmental humanities focuses on is the fact that while environmental and ecological problems will affect everyone, they don’t affect everyone the same way, and there are definitely certain communities, among them the Native communities, that feel the effects of this differently, in some ways more deeply.”
In the first year of the project, focus was mainly placed on the development of courses and curriculum that would tie together the different disciplines to help spark the thinking needed to solve larger environmental problems.
The final year of the project is focused on bringing speakers to Rowan that address different, often unrecognized aspects of these problems. Messinger is the first of the speakers this year, though there have been two previous speakers.
Though the project’s grant funding ends this year, part of its influence will continue to live on, namely in the course curriculum developed by faculty.
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